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By Peter Miva

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 27) – Villagers in Mendi, in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands, say they are getting no support from the government because they lack representation in parliament.

Village leader Joe Walbo has called on the PNG government and the Electoral Commission to immediately conduct a by-election for the Mendi Open seat, which was left vacant by Michael Nali in 2002.

Nali was ousted from office as a member of parliament after a leadership tribunal found him guilty of fund misappropriation.

Joe Walbo said yesterday since Nali left parliament, there has not been any progress on infrastructure or agricultural development in the electorate.

Walbo said there are no new developments taking place in the areas of health, schools and bridges.

He said the people in the electorate have no source of funding to help them start up potato, chicken, piggery, vegetable and other livelihood projects.

"There is no progress in the electorate. The people are simply suffering because we do not have a voice in parliament," Walbo said. "The people living in the Lai valley, Upper Karins, Upper Mendi and Mendi Central have suffered enough and want a new Member of Parliament to represent them."

He said it is a pity while the people of Ialibu Pangia, Kagua Erave, Nipa Kutubu, Komo Magarima, Tari Pori, and Koroba Lake Kopiago have seen some developments in their area and the people of Mendi Open did not.

Walbo said government services continue to go into the other electorates while services in Mendi Open runs at a snail's pace.

He, however, commended the National Government for allocating the highest amount to the Southern Highlands provincial government in the national budget.

"We need qualified public servants in the Agiru building to effectively plan and use these funds into worthwhile infrastructure and agriculture developments," Walbo said.

Walbo has also called on Southern Highlands Governor Hami Yawari to subsidize school fees for all tertiary students in the province and not only to students attending the University of Technology in Lae.

He said Yawari should be fair by paying up the fees for all tertiary students.

January 28, 2005

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